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Abandon Proposed M20, Develop Sustainable Transport Corridor

category national | environment | press release author Tuesday August 26, 2008 19:30author by Brian Guckian Report this post to the editors

Campaigner Puts Alternative to Councils

Adopt the Transport Policies of 2008, not 1968

Councils Should Lead in Sustainable Transport Planning

PRESS RELEASE

For Release 26/8/2008

SUSTAINABLE transport researcher and campaigner Brian Guckian has called on Cork and Limerick Co. Councils to abandon their proposed M20 motorway in favour of a state-of-the-art Sustainable Transport Corridor between the two cities that would feature a re-opened direct rail link, improvements to the existing N20 and new high-quality coach services.

The initiative follows Mr. Guckian's recent exposure of serious breaches of EU legislation and national environmental policy in the manner in which the Councils were planning transport improvements between Cork and Limerick, focussing wrongly on a highly unsustainable and outmoded € 1 billion proposed motorway instead of evaluating all transport modes in a holistic, balanced manner.

He had pointed out how so-called "public consultation" on the motorway proposal was in breach of the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment as the public had not been allowed to genuinely participate in the planning process.

"If people were truly, democratically involved, the folly of the motorway proposal would be laid bare and other, far superior ideas, such as a direct rail link, would come to the fore. Instead the public are merely told what is going to happen, and presented with different 'route options' for a motorway that it has already been decided will proceed. Any pretence that this is democratic or in line with best practice in sustainability is a sham", he said.

Mr. Guckian continued that many local Councils in Ireland had got away with "absolute murder" over the years in flouting basic rights in law that people had in relation to planning in their own communities and that Ireland remained an environmental and undemocratic "bad boy of Europe", despite a carefully crafted pretence to the contrary.

He reiterated that County and City Councils were among the primary perpetrators of soaring CO2 emissions implicated in climate change as well as chronic fossil fuel dependency in Ireland due to a deeply-entrenched roads culture in their organisations. He said a Submission to the Department of Transport in April of this year had proposed robust measures to deal with this, including staff re-training, re-organisation of Council roads departments into Sustainable Transport Departments and funding cuts and fines to Councils that insisted on proceeding with unsustainable road-building schemes.

And far from being modern and progressive, motorways were in reality old-fashioned and negative infrastructure from the 1960s, generating CO2 emissions that accelerated climate change, increasing rather than reducing traffic, reinforcing oil dependency, and being profoundly uneconomic due to their huge secondary costs.

Mr. Guckian called upon the Councils to instead "adopt the transport policies of 2008, not 1968". This would entail developing the Cork - Limerick route as a Sustainable Transport Corridor (STC), embodying current best practice in sustainable mobility and featuring a re-opened direct rail link via Charleville, Croom and Patrickswell. This link would cut traffic volumes, cost an estimated € 116 million and generate benefits of at least € 14 million per annum, with journey times of less than one hour betwen the cities possible. Under the STC model, the existing N20 would also be improved and new additional coach services provided which would further cut traffic volumes. The new corridor would offer transport choice and value, and cost a fraction of the proposed motorway, as well as cutting CO2 emissions and oil consumption, with little generated in the way of secondary costs, he said.

The STC planning process would further be truly democratic in nature, and in line with best community planning practice as contained in the EU Directive on EIA and also embodied in the UN Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (1998), to which Ireland was a signatory. Development of STCs could proceed via Community Workshops that were fully participative, open, and not predetermined in nature, he indicated.

Mr. Guckian said that the innovative STC format should be applied to the whole Atlantic Corridor contained in Transport 21, as well as other transport proposals around the country, and was based on concepts and techniques first developed for the pioneering Meath MASTER Plan solution to the Tara / M3 motorway controversy in Co. Meath, which has been with government and Meath Co. Council since last September.

People affected by the motorway proposal had the right at this stage to Petition the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament for breaches of the EU EIA Directive. However Mr. Guckian stated that the STC proposal was a more positive approach to the issue and could be progressed by the public in tandem with their elected representatives and the relevant state agencies.

Mr. Guckian indicated that whilst Cork and Limerick County Councils had been referred to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he had written to their Cathaoirligh promoting the STC alternative. He further added that Ireland's generally poor approach to sustainability meant the country was losing out in tapping into new world markets in eco-technology that were predicted to grow in value by € 500 billion over the next two years.

ENDS

Contact: Brian Guckian 087 9140105 railprojects@eircom.net

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